Wednesday, September 23, 2009

85. Smuttynose Finestkind IPA

Our second beer from Smuttynose Brewing Company, located in Portsmouth, NH.

Smuttynose Finestkind IPA has a hoppy caramel malty nose and a straw to copper color with a thick creamy head that laces well down the sides of the glass. The mouthfeel is soft and even, with a bit of a bite from the carbonation as the beer sits in the mouth. Creamy initial mouthfeel mixes well with light caramel maltiness, although overall malt presence at the front of the beer is subdued and thin. Light biscuit notes as beer moves into a hoppy middle with deep dry bitterness predominating. Carbonation adds extra bite as beer moves across palate and into the end, with enough bitterness coming through to create a dry sensation in the mouth at the end that lingers pleasantly. As odd as such a description may seem, the thin body meshes well with the dry bitterness of the beer—the balance between the two, mixed with the creamy mouthfeel, draws the different parts of the beer together nicely. In using the mouthfeel to provide the substance of the beer, the flavor profile becomes the vehicle for a hoppy bitterness accentuating the beer’s taste across the palate. As well, there is more bitterness than either flavor or aroma hops in this beer—lots of dry cotton-mouthy bitterness. Smuttynose IPA is both an enjoyable take on the traditional notions of an IPA and also some good drinkin’.

From Smuttynose’s website: “GOLD MEDAL WINNER - Best American Beer 2004 Great British Beer Festival

‘Hands-down one of the best American-style India Pale Ales ever crafted. This brew is lip smacking, with an aggressive and pungent grapefruit hop character. Wonderfully balanced and insanely drinkable.’ - Jason & Todd Alström, the Weekly Dig’s Beer Highlights of 2004

Portsmouth is a colonial era seaport town, so it goes to follow that sooner or later we’d brew an India Pale Ale as a tribute to those big, hoppy 19th century ales that made the long sea voyage from England's temperate shores, ’round the Cape of Good Hope, to the sultry climes of the faraway East Indies. But there's another reason we brewed this beer, one that’s closer to our home and hearts. Hopheads. Ten years ago we brewed our first batch of Shoals Pale Ale, our American interpretation of the traditional British ESB (Extra Special Bitter) style. At the time, it was widely considered to be darned hoppy. However, a funny thing happened over the last decade - our Shoals Pale Ale didn’t change; beer lovers did, and we started to hear more and more: ‘Why don't you guys make a really hoppy beer?’

You could say, then, that Smuttynose IPA is a physical salute to the glory of the American hop grower. The citrusy hop flavor coming from a mixture of Simcoe and Santiams is pleasantly balanced by a smooth bitterness from the Amarillo hops. The beer itself is light bodied and crisp with a golden color that will throw a slight haze, as we bottle it unfiltered. At 65 IBU's, this is definitely not a training-wheels IPA, but is meant for hop lovers looking to satisfy their craving in a way that's not easy to find. We think they’ll be quite pleased.
Our IPA is dry-hopped and unfiltered. The lees (sediment) that formon the bottom of the bottle are a natural part of this fine ale.”

ABV: 6.9%
IBU: 65
Hops: Simcoe, Santiams, & Amarillo


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